Cork Airport to see 89% drop in passengers but hope for "game-changer" vaccine

Cork Airport to see 89% drop in passengers but hope for "game-changer" vaccine

Just 13,000 passengers will return home to Cork this Christmas, in comparison to 119,000 last year. Photo: Leon Farrell/RollingNews.ie

On what is typically the busiest time of the year, Cork Airport is expecting a drop of 89 percent in passenger traffic, but remain hopeful that a Covid-19 vaccine will see some normality by Spring.

Despite the addition of three routes from Ryanair over Christmas, Cork Airport will only be operating five routes - to London Heathrow, London Stanstead, Amsterdam, Katowice and Gdansk.

Last year, the airport had a total of 32 routes from nine airlines and the significant reduction will see just 13,000 passengers return home to Cork this Christmas, in comparison to 119,000 last year.

According to Kevin Cullinane, Head of Communications at Cork Airport, revenue is down €23 million this year, though a vaccine has brought hope for travel by next Spring.

“Things are starting to slowly pick up, we will just be minus 89 percent in December versus 95 percent over the last ten months,” he said.

“The news from Pfizer and indeed other companies that have announced positive results on vaccine trials have been a bit of a game-changer in that it has given, certainly our airline customers, more confidence to start looking at how quickly they can recommence their wishes for next summer which could be as early as April.” 

The airport is currently in talks with airlines, in the hopes of reintroducing routes as early as possible.

“What we’re now in discussion with Ryanair and indeed all of the other airlines that are now operating is to see how quickly we can get routes back up and running next summer,” said Mr Cullinane.

“It is a case of the airline seeing what kind of forward bookings they have and what the demand is.

“If it’s stronger than they anticipated, then they will start reinstating other routes but they don’t foresee a lot of people traveling in January, February and March of the New year so the reinstatement of routes that were previously operating in and out of Cork, we won’t see until April next year.”

It comes after Chief Executive of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary called on the government to help the industry recover and for a vaccine to be rolled out as quickly as possible.

As reported by the Irish Examiner, Mr O’Leary said that discounts at Cork, Dublin and Shannon Airport would be beneficial.

"The Government needs to play its role in that. We have the aircraft, we have the prices, but we need lower airport costs if we are to get that recovery in there quickly for the summer of '21,” he said.

"The discount doesn't come to us, the discount goes directly on to the customer. You've got to get visitors back into Ireland.”

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